Whether they've been involved in a sports mishap, a car accident or something else, if someone has received a traumatic brain injury, they need medical attention as soon as possible. With that in mind, we've recently seen several portable devices that can ascertain if such an injury has occurred, quickly and on the spot. Still, none of those systems are as reliable as an EEG (electroencephalogram), which measures electrical activity in the brain. Soon, it may be possible to conduct on-location EEGs, using a special helmet known as the EmerEEG.
Currently, EEGs must be conducted once the patient has reached a hospital.
An array of hard-wired electrodes are attached to the patient's head, a dab of conductive gel being placed beneath each one. The readings must subsequently be assessed by a trained physician, who knows how to interpret them.
Developed by Norwegian startup Smartbrain, the EmerEEG has the electrodes already inside of it, attached to a flexible membrane. Once placed on the patient's head in an ambulance, that membrane is gently inflated, to ensure that all the electrodes make contact. The gel is automatically dispensed to each one.
Within about a minute of being put on the patient, the helmet can begin taking readings. Software compares them to a database of EEG readings taken from people known to have traumatic brain injuries, to see if they're similar. Ambulance personnel are subsequently notified, plus the readings are transmitted to the hospital, so preparations can be made.
A consortium is now working on refining and commercializing the technology.